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Academy clarifies Oscar plans as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and more join protest

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

The film world was sent into a tizzy earlier this week when the Academy announced its plan to hand out awards for cinematography, editing, live-action short, and makeup and hair during commercial breaks. Per The Guardian, multiple filmmakers–including Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Rachel Morrison (the first woman to be nominated for cinematography)–signed an open letter asking the Academy to reverse its decision. Following the outcry, Variety reports that the Academy has released a statement clarifying its decision and assuring filmmakers that these particular Oscars will still be handed out on stage–they’ll just be broadcast later in the evening.

Various filmmakers signed an open letter calling the decision to hand out four Oscars during ad breaks “nothing less than an insult”:

Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession … When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form.

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The letter goes on to quote Academy member Seth Rogen, who said, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to NOT publicly honour the people whose job it is to film things.”

As Variety reports, the Academy’s board of governors has issued a statement in response to the backlash, addressing what it calls “inaccurate reporting and social media posts.” According to the board, “no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.” Subsequently, the board clarified its new approach by explaining that all 24 Oscar categories will be presented on stage, with the awards for cinematography, editing, live-action short, and makeup and hair presented during ad breaks. The four respective branches volunteered to “have their nominees and winners announced by presenters, and included later in the broadcast,” while “Time spent walking to the stage and off, will be edited out.”

Basically, these awards presentations and acceptance speeches will be filmed and shown later in the evening rather than live; the only thing viewers won’t see is the winners walk to the stage. The letter also notes that “In future years, four to six different categories may be selected for rotation, in collaboration with the show producers. This year’s categories will be exempted in 2020.”

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